Poem by Sonya Bui ’21. Illustration by Emma Yang ’20.
i don’t like crying
in front of other people
especially not with a
border the size of a stegosaurus
between my world
or a constant reminder of
oh no, look, another breakout!
did she gain weight?
to save your family’s grace.
how’s she doing? no bad grades?
forget about saving face.
i’m saving faces
in my memory.
the polaroid frames i brought
don’t help much:
there the faces are stuck
in singular fragments
—snatched right out of
a european restaurant
my living room perhaps
or that one particular sunrise
with purple smashed into blue
and the grass feasting
on the morning dew
underneath my bare feet—
i close my eyes
the faces fade
along with the all-too-familiar gestures
and twists and turns of the streets
the names of which
stick on the tip of my mother tongue
the way a chocolate ice cream cone melts between your fingers
then drips down and stains your favorite shirt
and stays there stubbornly no matter how many times you bleach it
not wanting to escape.
who’s there to listen?
what’s there to listen to
once all’s lost in translation?
i open my chat boxes
then the recorder
then somewhere between five and eight and twelve hours
on the other side
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